Friday, June 2, 2017

No Cash – "Run Your Pockets" (2003)

Run your motherf*ckin’ pockets
Give me all you got!

When I was in my forties, I used to run a 10K race every year.  The happiest day of the year for me was the day after my annual race, when I knew it would be 364 days until I had to run another 10K.

One year, the other runners included a guy who ran backwards for the entire distance, and a guy who juggled three balls as he ran the race.  I’m happy to say I finished ahead of both of those runners.

Juggling during a race is
now known as "joggling"
I wish I knew how to juggle.  (Maybe I’ll take juggling up when I retire from my law firm later this year.)  

But even if I did, I probably wouldn’t have thought to juggle while running in a 10K.  And I would never  have asked a judge to let me juggle in court to help prove that I was not guilty of attempted robbery.

*     *     *     *     *

They say that a man who acts as his own lawyer has a fool for a client.

That proverb is often attributed to Abraham Lincoln, but it appears in an 1814 book by English clergyman Henry Kett.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Kett stole it from an even earlier writer, but that’s not important – what is important is that a man who acts as his own lawyer has a fool for a client.

Twenty-year-old Orlando Melendez plans to represent himself in his upcoming criminal trial in Springfield, MA.  But he proved that he was a fool long before he made that decision.

The night of December 12, 2016, Melendez attended what must have been the mother of all parties.  

Orlando Menendez
Early the next morning, he walked into a Cumberland Farms convenience store, pulled a green toy gun from his pocket, and told the store clerks to “run your [vulgarity],” which the clerks interpreted as a demand that they hand over the money in the cash register.  (They assumed “run your [vulgarity]” was a variation on “run your pockets,” which is a slang term meaning “Give me whatever valuables you’re carrying in your pockets.”)

It’s easy to be a Monday-morning quarterback, but I have to question why Menedez didn’t bring a black toy gun.  (I’m no expert when it comes to firearms, but I’m pretty sure real guns aren’t green.)  In any event, Melendez seems to have been rattled by a customer unexpectedly walking into the store, and he left without any money.

A few blocks later, he was arrested by police.  According to the arrest report, Melendez said “I must have committed at least 20 crimes in the last seven hours.”  

A Cumberland Farms store
The next day, he pleaded not guilty to attempted unarmed robbery and possession of a deceptive device (the toy gun) during the commission of a crime.

His court-appointed lawyer made some pretty good arguments at his bail hearing.  He pointed out that no one was hurt and no money was taken from the store.  “Run your [vulgarity]” wasn’t necessarily a demand for money, so it’s not clear that Melendez was trying to rob the store – although his brandishing the toy gun was a little suspicious.  (Are you as curious about what that vulgarity was as I am?)

“He had been at a party and had a lot to drink,” the lawyer explained, trying to make lemonade from the lemons his client had given him.

He also pointed out that Melendez had a steady job and a GED.  “He's a young man who has made some mistakes, but he's looking to improve his life and move on and upward if he can,” the lawyer said.

That lawyer was fighting an uphill battle.  His client had been arrested only a few weeks earlier for stealing a car, and was on probation in two other criminal cases.  Not surprisingly, the judge sent Melendez to the poke pending trial.

*     *     *     *     *

Melendez fired his lawyer in February, choosing to represent himself at his pretrial hearing last week.

During that hearing, Melendez explained that he was just clowning around when he walked into that convenience store.  To prove it, he asked the judge to permit him to juggle three wadded-up pieces of paper for 20 seconds at his trial.  

“The keystone to his defense is: he’s literally a clown,” Melendez argued in a handwritten motion.  

(Maybe he wrote that motion in the third person so it wasn’t so obvious that he was representing himself.)  But whatever his thinking was, the motion was denied by the judge.  

The juggling act would be “not only the simplest, but the only possible proof that the defendant is a jester,” the motion said.  Denying his motion would be to deny his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to a fair trial, Melendez argued.

Any guesses as to how the judge ruled on that motion?

*     *     *     *     *

“Run Your Pockets” is from a 2003 album of the same name by No Cash, a hardcore punk band from Pennsylvania.

The "Run Your Pockets" album cover
Here’s what one reviewer had to say about the album:

[“Run Your Pockets”] is not a disc for the faint-hearted . . . . [I]f you consider yourself conservative, steer clear of this disc.  I repeat, steer clear of this disc.  But if you're open-minded, have some major qualms with society, and have a hankering for brutal punk, then by all means give “Run Your Pockets” a listen. . . . Revolution and questioning authority are definitely the pervasive themes here, making for quite a bold record, played at warped [sic] speed. 

I’m not sure whether Orlando Melendez had major qualms with society and a hankering for brutal punk when he walked into that Springfield convenience packing a green toy gun, or if he was simply hammered, blitzed, smashed, annihilated, sh*t-faced, and three sheets to the wind.

What I am sure of is that Orlando Melendez had a fool for a lawyer.

Here’s “Run Your Pockets”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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